Coming off a 3-5 record from the 2016-17 season, the Bates football team wanted to build off last year’s positives and lean on the experience of their once young team. The Bobcats running game was their bread and butter last season, ranking in the top five for rushing yards per game with 167.4 yards and also ranked first in rushing attempts with 408. They will look to rely on that same productivity this year while also trying to establish a passing game. The Bobcats ranked dead last in passing last year, averaging only 84.6 yards per game and will be sure to try and improve this.

I spoke with running back Peter Boyer ‘19 about this season and his expectations.

“I am obviously very excited about this season. We have a stellar group of guys and numerous playmakers on both sides of the ball,” Boyer said. “This years’ group of guys are more focused than ever and it is the best team talent-wise that I have been a part of since I have been at Bates.”

These pros and cons from last season were on display in their season opener against the Amherst Mammoths as they were beat 41-17. Sloppy play by Bates would be detrimental, as the Mammoths would strike first with 5:14 remaining in the first quarter with a 49 yard touchdown pass from Ollie Eberth to James O’Regan. A Bates defensive back slipped on the play which let O’Regan wide open for the score. The Bobcats offense did not get much going during the first but only trailed 6-0 at the start of the second.

In the second quarter the Mammoths’ offense marched down the field, a couple runs from Eberth set the Mammoths at Bates’ 34 yard line. From there Jack Hickey broke a 30-yard run that set them up at the four yard line where Hickey would punch it in for a 13-0 lead. Facing third and two at the Bates 18, Eberth fired the ball over the middle and found Beau Santero for the touchdown. After the extra point, Amherst led 20-0. Bates would finally get on the board after a nice 41 yard run by Tyler Baum ‘19 that set up a 38-yard field goal by Grant DeWald ‘18, his career high, as time expired in the half. Bates was down 20-3 at the half.

Amherst would keep the pressure on Bates in the second half. Another big play from their own 24 yard line on a third and long, Eberth hit his receiver Craig Carmilani on a slant and burned two defenders for a 79 yard run to paydirt, cushioning the lead to 27-3 after the extra point. Turnovers played a big part in the large lead as two of Bates’ turnovers turned into points for the Mammoths. Bates quarterback Sandy Plashkes ‘19 had a rough day, throwing for only 14 yards and an interception in the third quarter. That interception would set up Eberth to throw for his final touchdown of the game with 8:29 left in the third to push their lead to 34-3 after the extra point. The Bobcats fumbled on the ensuing drive and the Mammoths went up 41-3 after Hasani Figueroa ran the ball 18 yards to the Bates seven and Andrew Dorogi took it in for the six points.

Although the game was out of reach, the Bobcats did not crumble and continued to fight. The Bobcats would recover a fumble by Amherst and score on the following drive. A nice run and pitch from Plashkes to Baum who rushed it in to make it 41-10 with 1:10 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Bobcats scored again. With 10:34 left in the game, the Bobcats took over after a punt and a personal foul at their own 40. Kyle Flaherty ‘19 ran the ball twice to get them near midfield. Facing second and long at the Amherst 48, sophomore and replacement for Plashkes, Matt Golden ‘20 completed his only pass attempt of the day. He connected with Brian Daly ‘18 a 33-yard gain to the Mammoth 15. Flaherty followed with an 11-yard run to the four which set up Jaason Lopez ‘21 rushed it in for his first career touchdown in his premier collegiate game.

One of the standouts for the Bobcats was punter Justin Foley ‘19 who pinned Amherst within their own 10 yard line twice in the first quarter. One of those punts was a 60 yarder that put Amherst at their own 2 yard line. Baum rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown to cap off his day.

The Bobcats will look to bounce back in their home opener next weekend against Trinity at 1 p.m. Saturday, September 23rd. This will be a special game as they play during “Back to Bates” weekend.